Heckling on the golf course?
Former PGA Champion Keegan Bradley -- who also proved himself a match-play force in the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah -- was the victim of some unwarranted, distasteful heckling at Tiger Woods's World Challenge on Saturday.
Bradley, who famously uses a belly putter, was called a, "cheater," by a spectator as he played the final hole of his third round at Sherwood Country Club.
"It's very disrespectful, but it's fine with me," Bradley told the press. "I've got to try to look at it as motivation to help me try to win this tournament."
Just last week, the USGA and the R&A proposed a new rule to ban anchored putters -- a rule that would take effect in January 2016.
Three of the last five major champions, starting with Bradley at the 2011 PGA Championship, used a belly putter. The proposed change was likely the reason -- among other things -- for the vitriol Bradley received on Saturday.
Being called, "a cheater," is the worst imaginable thing you can tag a golfer. Especially when he's done nothing wrong, which is the case with Bradley. Long putters have been legal for years. To its credit, the USGA responded to the Bradley incident with the statement below:
Far Hills, N.J. (December 2, 2012) -- The United States Golf Association (USGA) today issued the following statement regarding yesterday's incident at the World Challenge in which a spectator called Keegan Bradley's use of an anchored stroke as "cheating." The incident follows the Nov. 28 announcement by the USGA and The R&A proposing changes to the Rules of Golf that would prohibit anchoring the club in making a stroke. The proposed Rule change would take effect on January 1, 2016, in accordance with the regular four-year cycle for changes to the Rules of Golf.
"This is a deplorable incident, and there is no place in our game for this kind of behavior. As we noted when announcing proposed Rule 14-1b, it has been and remains entirely within the Rules of Golf for players to anchor the club while making a stroke. There should not be a shred of criticism of such players or any qualification or doubt about their achievements, and we think that it is inappropriate even to suggest anything to the contrary. Rule changes address the future and not the past. Up until now and until such time as a Rule change were to be implemented, golfers using an anchored stroke will have been playing by the Rules of Golf."
"We are sorry that Keegan had to experience this unfounded criticism from an obviously uneducated spectator. Instead, Keegan and other PGA Tour professionals should be commended for their maturity and grace in managing through a proposed change to the Rules of Golf."
"While we understand that the proposed Rules change would cause some short-term angst, we believe the new Rule would serve the long-term best interest of the game."
Here's to hoping Bradley -- or anyone else using a long putter while it's still legal, for that matter -- is spared the nonsense from the peanut gallery.
PGA of America President Ted Bishop issued the following statement after the USGA and R&A announced its proposed long putter ban:
"The PGA has long supported the USGA in its role of establishing the Rules of Golf governing play and equipment. We have representation on the Rules of Golf Committee and we have tremendous respect for the USGA in regard to their critical role in writing and interpreting the Rules of Golf. As our mission is to grow the game, on behalf of our 27,000 men and women PGA Professionals, we are asking them to seriously consider the impact this proposed ban may have on people's enjoyment of the game and the overall growth of the game."